Recovery from substance addiction is not easy, and the COVID-19 pandemic is making it even more difficult. As many of us continue to self-isolate, we are in turn at odds with increasing levels of anxiety, loneliness, and depression. (All of the above are common relapse triggers.)
Perhaps this sounds familiar.
Stuck in quarantine, you may be feeling more alone than ever before. Your 12-step meetings may have come to a screeching halt. Your gym membership may be developing cobwebs. Your friends may be less in touch, and your boredom levels may have spiked. Without the support system and hobbies you’ve relied on in recovery, you may find yourself wanting a drink, or a hit, or something to pass the time.
So, how can you maintain your sobriety in quarantine?
As we detailed in a recent article, now is the time to prioritize your mental and physical health. Now is the time to find positive aspects of life,. Below, we provide tips for making the most of recovery in quarantine, and for staying sober even while in isolation.
- Establish a routine.
Routine is one of the most essential pieces of a successful recovery. On one hand, it offers structure – those in recovery can rely on a routine to stay active, leaving little room for boredom (which is a common relapse trigger). A routine also provides balance and fills the day with purpose. It allows you to work at something, to complete tasks, and to feel accomplished as the day goes on.
In quarantine, it’s easy to get out of a routine if you are working from home, or not working at all. There may be more down time throughout your day, and less errands you can run or places you can go, due to the current restrictions. However, there are still ways you can create a routine while isolated at home. This might include:
- Waking up and going to bed at a specific time
- Showering and getting dressed
- Regularly attending meetings (even online)
- Creating a work schedule
- Walking the dog
- Setting aside time to exercise each day
- Calling mom, or a close friend
- Eating meals
- Making tea and reading a book
Take time to fill your day with hobbies that you enjoy, and balance that out with tasks that you need to accomplish, whether that be work/school projects, or cleaning the house. If it’s helpful, create a schedule for your recovery routine in quarantine, and hang it somewhere prominent in your home.
- Seek virtual support.
You may not be able to meet in large groups, or in-person with your counselor, but help is still available to you. Many 12-step meetings, Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous meetings, and other support groups are now being offered online amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, many clinicians are offering telehealth therapy sessions during these trying times. Telehealth appointments may involve a confidential video chat or phone call with your counselor.
No matter which method you have committed to in your recovery – whether it is one-on-one counseling sessions, or 12-step meetings – it is important to continue that method during quarantine. During this time of self-isolation, you will benefit from these meetings and support groups more than ever before. Daily or weekly interactions with others in the recovery community can re-affirm that you are not alone in this, and provide you a safe space to discuss any challenges or concerns during this time.
- Avoid loneliness.
Similar to finding online or virtual meetings to attend, it is important to stay in touch with your loved ones. Your sober support network. Your friends and family members who support your recovery journey. If you cannot safely meet in-person, take advantage of modern technologies like Zoom and FaceTime. Don’t be scared to get creative! Set up virtual coffee dates, game nights, or a book club with your circle of loved ones.
- Get outdoors.
The outdoors are naturally therapeutic. In fact, research shows there is a strong connection between time spent in nature and reduced stress, depression, and anxiety disorders. The environment promotes energy, relaxation, and positivity. So, to sustain your sobriety during quarantine, we suggest getting outside regularly. This may involve hiking the local trails, or going for a nature walk with your dog. It may even involve a trip to the beach or a nearby lake. By experiencing the natural wonders around you, you will feel more energized, accomplished, and at peace.
- Get active.
Did you know that there are health risks from sitting too much? As much as you may want to binge-watch TV shows or stay glued to your desk, it’s important to get up and moving! Try to establish an exercise routine during quarantine, and don’t be afraid to try new things. Take online yoga classes, or subscribe to a fun workout channel on YouTube. Pick up hiking, running, or even stretching to start. Research shows that exercise can enhance both your mood and self-esteem, which is why it is always a key part of Turnbridge’s recovery program.
- Take up new hobbies.
Sourdough starter, anyone? There are many trends that have surfaced in quarantine, from baking bread and whipping up Dalgona coffee, to perfecting TikTok dances and makeup looks. The point is, quarantine has given us this unprecedented time to try new things! You can test your cooking skills, or even artistic talents. Perhaps you have a list of home projects to do—you can start a DIY Instagram page! If there are projects or passions you have been wanting to pursue, take advantage of this time to do so while at home. You may discover a newfound love in the process.
- Stay healthy.
Staying healthy is a key part of quarantine, but for those in recovery, let this serve as a reminder. Drugs and alcohol weaken the immune system, making it much harder to fight off common infections and illnesses. With COVID-19 spreading so relentlessly, it is important to keep your immune system strong. By staying sober, you can better protect yourself (and your loved ones) from the disease. You can also keep healthy by exercising, eating nutritious meals, taking vitamins, and taking care of your mental health.
- Find peace.
There are, without question, hard days in quarantine. There are days you may wake up and feel anxious, unmotivated, or just plain-put sad. There may be days when you may feel at odds with yourself, and days you may want a drink. No matter how you feel, however, try to push yourself to stay positive and find peace. Dig into your recovery toolkit and find what can bring you back to a level head.
Some clients at Turnbridge benefit from writing in a gratitude journal every day. They find something to be grateful for, whether it is a person in their life or just their general health, and put the pen to paper. There are days they may not feel grateful, especially when stuck at home, but doing this exercise reminds them of the positive things in life.
Many Turnbridge clients (and alumni) also find solace in mindfulness and meditation practices. This helps them overcome any negative thoughts or feelings, and re-focus on their personal healing and recovery journey. There are many different mindfulness and meditation techniques you can use during addiction recovery, which one Turnbridge therapist details here – Mindfulness Meditation In Addiction Treatment. By adopting peaceful practices at the start and/or end of your day, you can sustain positivity and sobriety during this otherwise stressful pandemic.
Don’t let COVID-19 get the best of your mental health, your physical health, or your outlook on life. By keeping busy and practicing self-care, and by staying in touch with your loved ones and clinicians, you can sustain a successful recovery in quarantine. To learn how Turnbridge can help you in your recovery journey, please do not hesitate to call 877-581-1793.